This is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there! I'll tell you how.... Caleb and I fell in love.
It all started on a Thursday night in 2015, when one of my closest friends, Jazmin, dragged me out of my dorm room to go to Probate to celebrate the new members of each fraternity/sorority in the National Pan-Hellenic Council. I was new to the school, as I had just transferred to Mercer Macon from Furman University in South Carolina, and had preferred staying in my dorm room and studying for microbiology or watching Grey's. We went over to the student center and watched the Ques and Kappas step + stroll and met up with one of my friends from high school, who was dating a Lambdi Chi. They invited us over to hang out at the house that night, and thats when I met Caleb.
It was love at first sight. We're suddenly in the library. I drop my books. He's picking them up and his hands touch mine and that's it. He's the one.
Lol jk, wouldn't that be nice. This isn't a fairytale. But let's all be honest: we all expect to meet our soulmates that way.
I was hanging out in the Lambdi Chi house, and I see this cute guy with long curly hair and he's wearing a baby pink button down. I decide to be the awkward freshman that I am, and ask him for a tour of the house. It's really amazing what a newfound confidence of being a new member of a sorority will do to you. And soda! Lots of soda (keep in mind.... college...) So he gives me a tour of the house, shows me his DVD collection he was so proud of and we start talking about Star Wars. (I had recently wrote a paper on George Lucas and the power of the trilogy and the plausibility of the Star Wars fandom in reframing religion, and he agreed that the prequels are unnecessary.) What? Yeah. That night, we went to Waffle House with friends. He got biscuits and gravy and I got my hashbrowns topped, capped, and smothered. I think I hate us. #ModernRomance
I'd like to remind you guys that you asked for this - I never said it would be classy or graceful or beautiful. Feel free to stop reading now hahahha.
I was a freshman, he was a sophomore. Looking back, we were so different and so young! We hung out a couple more times after that, each time just barely less awkward than the last because I didn't really even know this guy. He asked me out on a date a couple weeks later, and I said yes. We had barbecue, talked about our likes and dislikes, and Caleb confessed that he had actually known of me before we met that Thursday night. He said he'd seen me at the gym, saw my photos on Instagram (back when I was @letsCLARAfye) because he was friends with my Chi O Big sister. Creepy much? Jk, I thought it was super cute at the time.
It was weird because this was right before we had to go back home for summer: me to Atlanta, him to Warner Robins, so the question of the century was.... "What are we?" *Cue the memes* but really, we had to talk it out and say we'd see each other that summer, we'd text, call, and decide where this was going when we got back to school in August. Little did we know, "long-distance" would be our thing and there would be an end to it.. But before we get there, there's more.
This being my first "serious" relationship, I didn't know what to expect. And we were so young. We didn't know how to communicate and make room for another person in our lives, but we also had so much fun. We just didn't know if this would work out to be a serious relationship, or just a college fling. There were tears, lots of passive-aggressive texts, me ignoring him, and frustration. But it always worked out because we started to open up, talk about our feelings, our desires, and we started to grow up - together.
A question I get quite often is if we struggled with cultural differences in our relationship. And the answer is YES! Of course we did - we still do. In the beginning of the relationship, it was explaining how I was raised and how different that was from how he was raised. Then, it was about the difference in expectations and seriousness of a relationship in college. In between, there was always something that needed to be talked out, explained, smoothed out, made clear. But retrospectively, it made our relationship more fun and interesting. Caleb comes from an Air Force family, and they had lived in various places - Japan, Germany, Arizona, Washington, etc. It actually turned out I lived in the US longer than he did! It was always interesting. Our date nights cooking food in our respective college apartments consisted of making schnitzel and spaetzle, soba noodles, bulgogi, chicken tikka masala, you name it.
Another question I get frequently is how my parents responded to me dating a caucasian guy. Keep in mind, my dad is the stereotypical Korean dad - super patriarchal and traditional, and my mom is the stereotypical Korean mom - unwavering supporter of her husband though slightly more open minded. They had wanted me to end up with a Korean man, not just any kind of Asian, specifically Korean. It helped that my previous boyfriends were African American and caucasian, though they were just high school relationships. By the time my parents met Caleb, they had started to realize that I would probably marry someone who wasn't Asian. It was a little iffy for them at first, of course. They speak broken English and Caleb knew no Korean, so I was the translator. As for Caleb's parents, they were easier to get along with because I had been raised here, even though Caleb lied to them when I first went over for dinner and told them I couldn't speak any English!!! Such a clown!!
We made the most out of our 1 year at the same school. But of course, we had to have that conversation of "Ok, what's going to happen once I move back to Atlanta for nursing school?" We were living in bliss, not really thinking about how we would tackle the next 2 years apart. But once I got that acceptance letter, it really worked out perfectly because Caleb would graduate with this BSE, and have 1 more year completing his MSE while I finish my 2-year BSN program.
The summer before my first semester of nursing school (2016), Caleb worked at Gulfstream in Savannah, making us 4 hours apart. That was really hard. We went from seeing each other every single day to seeing each other a handful of times that season. But as we always do, we made the best out of it. We both look back fondly at this time in our relationship. It was hard being apart from each other while we were still getting to know each other. We had a lot of hard conversations about where this would/should go, what we would/should do, how we feel. But we firmly believe that this season brought us closer together and motivated us to see the end of our LDR.
The past 2 years of LDR have been nothing short of a dream. Of course there were, and are still, difficult patches that were rooted in me being stressed from nursing school and him being stressed from working full-time and taking master's classes, we aren't going to sugarcoat that. But knowing that we were individually working tirelessly toward our dreams, apart yet together, motivated us to keep running this race. I think that's what keeps us happy. We each have our own passions and goals, and though we each have to make sacrifices to cultivate a healthy relationship, we stay true to what we individually want out of life. And we bring these to the table and find ways to ensure that each of us still achieves what we want in life, while also supporting the other.
We talked about marriage often, because we knew this was the next step for us after completion of nursing school and his MSE degree. So here we are.
Caleb proposed in Boston, our 3rd spring break together, our first trip together, just us two.
"Did you expect it at all?"
We talked about it often! I picked out the ring, I was at his parents' place when it got delivered, so I knew it was coming up. Plus lets be real, I didn't stop bugging him about it because I just wanted that ring on my damn finger. (And if you're in nursing school like me and thrive in instant gratification, you know how gruesome this waiting game was, as each week its another girl who gets engaged/married/pregnant.)
But I actually told him I wouldn't want to get engaged in Boston, because it wasn't a meaningful place for us. So he said he wouldn't. But the night before, I was looking for toothpaste in his bag, and he jumped up and told me he'd find it for me, so I knew something was up. The next day, Caleb proposed at Lopresti Park infront of the harbor and the view of the city. So Boston became a meaningful place for us. It was cold but so beautiful.
We joke that our relationship began in the most stereotypical college way. A Chi O meets a Lambdi Chi... who would've thought we would be where we are today? Being Caleb's partner is so rewarding. He is the most hard-working, driven, and motivated person I know. He constantly teaches me to slow down and be patient, that the things worth having are worth waiting for. He inspires me to be kinder and smarter. He is so unapologetically himself and lives his life in freedom in knowing who he is. He makes me double over in laughter and I think we're good for each other. We are grateful to live out our dreams as a mechanical engineer and (soon to be) L&D nurse.
So there it is. The story of us. Hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it!
We are getting our engagement photos taken soon, as well as our graduation photos.. So be on the lookout for that. We really appreciate all the love and support you guys pour onto us daily.